By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Sen. Doug Jones is picking his first fight in the U.S. Senate.
Jones’ office said Tuesday that he will be co-sponsoring legislation that would repeal the Federal Communication Commission’s recent policy change that did away with net neutrality protections. Those protections, sometimes referred to the open internet, required internet service providers, or ISPs, to treat all internet traffic equally and prohibited them from blocking, slowing down or discriminating against content on the internet.
The FCC, led by Republican-appointee Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, voted in December along party lines to do away with the protections. With the protections gone, providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon could conceivable slow down or block access to their competitor’s content, speed up access to their own services, or they could charge consumers more for access to competing services.
Pai and many anti-Net Neutrality advocates, including most large ISPs, say content won’t be throttled and the internet won’t fall apart.
“Americans will still be able to access the websites they want to visit,” Pai said ahead of the vote in December. “They will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy.”
Some Republicans say repealing the rule won’t destroy the internet and it gets rid of overly burdensome regulations that prevent ISPs from investing in broadband infrastructure. Democrats fear it could uphend how Americans access the internet.
“Restoring net neutrality is the right thing to do to protect Alabama consumers and to provide an equitable platform for companies of all sizes to compete for their customers,” Jones said.
And his legislation legislation would reinstate those protections.
“A free and open internet is crucial for our nation to remain a leader in the global economy, provide our children a quality education, and promote freedom of speech,” Jones said.
The legislation, which would come in the form of a resolution of disapproval, would rescind the FCC’s vote and restore net neutrality to its previous form. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn regulatory actions of federal agencies with a majority vote in both chambers.
With enough sponsors in the Senate, Democrats will be able to force a vote on the legislation within 60 legislative days.